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 Elena Hoyos

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Elena Hoyos

  • Original Name Maria Elena Milagro De Hoyos
  • Birth 31 Jul 1909 Key West, Monroe County, Florida, USA
  • Death 25 Oct 1931 Key West, Monroe County, Florida, USA
  • Burial Key West, Monroe County, Florida, USA
  • Memorial ID 23114033

Folk figure. She was part of one of the most bizarre love stories in history. Born the daughter of a cigar maker she came from a large Cuban-American family. In 1930, while living in Key West, Florida, her mother took her to a hospital after she had taken ill. She was diagnosed with tuberculosis (which was then incurable) and checked into a facility where she stayed with other patients suffering the same disease. It was there that she met Dr. Carl Von Cosel, a doctor who was working to find a cure. Cosel fell in love with her despite the fact that she was legally married. In spite of his best efforts, Cosel could not save Elena and she succumbed to the illness on October 25, 1931 and entombed in a family crypt. Von Cosel asked the family if he could keep Elena's body in a casket filled with formaldehyde to preserve her. But the curious began wondering why Von Cosel visited her night after night and when his visits stopped all assumed he had died. Years later he was found living in a house near the sea and through an investigation by Elena's sister, it was found that he had been living with her corpse, preserving it with oiled silk and wax to slow the decomposition. He had also used flowers and other scents to keep out the odor. Most curiously, he had made a death mask of her face to preserve her beauty. Von Cosel was arrested for body snatching but was not indicted because the statute of limitations had passed. He was examined by doctors and found to be perfectly sane though it remains a mystery of how he lived with a corpse for so many years. Elena's body was reclaimed and buried by the family in a secret location so that neither Von Cosel or the curious could disturb her grave. He died of an apparent suicide in his home in July of 1952 lying next to the death mask of his beloved. The strange death mask was put on public display as the story became legend.

Bio by: Selk


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Selk
  • Added: 26 Nov 2007
  • Find A Grave Memorial 23114033
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Elena Hoyos (31 Jul 1909–25 Oct 1931), Find A Grave Memorial no. 23114033, citing Key West Cemetery, Key West, Monroe County, Florida, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .